€500 000 council discretionary fund spread too thin

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SŽighin î CeallaighÊ

ATTEMPTS to put more money into tourism and local roads instead of dividing up a €500,000 discretionary fund among a range of community projects were rejected at this week’s Metropolitan District meeting of Limerick City and County Council.

A majority of councillors voted against a proposal from Sinn Fein’s Séighin Ó Ceallaigh to move the focus from community and special projects and concentrate on tourism, recreation and amenity initiatives instead.

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His proposal would have given a total budget of €238,000 to tourism and €335,000 for local roads.

“We have only a little money in these areas and having it spread so thinly is not good,” Cmhlr O’Ceallaigh said.

“I would like to see enough money allocated to make a difference in areas such as the provision of speed ramps and CCTV and for tourism projects. We have a number of big festivals that get funding but we would also like to see smaller events get a look in, in the tourism budget. Tourism and traffic management should be a priority but because we have spread this money so thinly, we’re arguing over coppers instead of dealing with notes”.

Cllr Kieran O’Hanlon (FF) said he would not be happy to see money allocated in such a way as to take the decision making powers away from councillors.

“Councillors have an input into what is needed in their own areas,” he said.

“Some areas just can’t get funding because they are not regeneration areas. I’m not happy that the decision-making power would be taken away from councillors who are trying to get the necessary works done in these areas,” he said.

Cllr Joe Leddin (Lab) said of groups staging festivals and events that “anyone who benefits from council funding must be bona fide”.

“Rather than see the money divided up between all three council areas, I would like to see it given to one group otherwise it’s a loaves and fishes job.

“We need a strategic fund that we could use as a marketing tool to bring in events,” he explained.